Open Letter:  People, not “Barbarians”!

Solidarity with the National Speaker of Fridays for Future, Elisa Baş against defamations from the Axel Springer Press!


Under the headline “Climate Activists shocks with accusation against Jews,” the BILD-Zeitung and other Springer media are trying to present Elisa Baş, the press officer of Fridays For Future, as “ignoring history” and “distasteful.” The corresponding article by Julian Lovenich appeared first in the Berliner Tageszeitung (B.Z.), then one hour later in BILD-Zeitung. One day after the BILD article, the editors of Focus Online and the Austrian paper Exxpress, repeated the accusations made in BILD.

Elisa Baş had criticised Josef Schuster, the president of the central council of Jews, from her Instagram account. In a guest commentary for BILD-Zeitung, he wrote: “the barbarians are among us”, and “something must happen.” A photo accompanying the commentary showed a woman waving a Palestinian flag.

Elisa Baş linked the article and added the following comment: “In Germany, there is a mood of pogroms against Palestinians which Schuster is fuelling.”

BILD editor Julian Loevenich construed the following accusation from this criticism: “particularly ignorant of history and distasteful is Baş’s claim of a pogrom, because Jews were murdered in pogroms in the Nazi time. The climate activist is thus comparing the president of the central council of Jews to National Socialists.”

Following the coverage, various people have called for her resignation.

We declare:

  1. Freedom of opinion is a human right, stirring up hatred and racism are not. We reject the calls for Elisa Baş to resign. The climate movement must not be divided. The attack on Elisa Baş is an attack on everyone who is campaigning for a world with climate justice. As climate activists with Jewish, Muslim and other backgrounds, we stand together behind the Fridays for Future national press officer Elisa Baş. The dangerous propaganda by BILD-Zeitung against a young climate activists must be stopped immediately!
  2. The press council must rein in BILD and BZ and stop the agitation against Palestinians.
  3. The criticism of Schuster that, with his statements, he fuels a “mood of pogroms” against Palestinians has nothing to do with antisemitism or forgetting history. The term “pogrom” is older than National Socialism and is also widely used in other contexts.
  4. The term “barbarians” served in the past to dehumanise people under slavery, and to justify colonial history. The connection of BILD-Zeitung and others to this racist tradition is irresponsible and incites an inflammatory mood.

Add your support with your name and organisation / executive council / group under the initial signatories or send your support by e-mail to